Infinitesimal waves on a uniform vortex with axial flow are studied. The equation for the frequency of helical waves is obtained, and solved for the case of long waves which leave the internal structure almost unaltered. A method is developed to obtain results for vortices of non-uniform structure and for displacements which are not necessarily small compared with the core radius. The approach consists of balancing the Kutta-Joukowski lift force, the momentum flux due to the axial motion, and the `tension' of the vortex lines. A general equation for the motion of a vortex filament is obtained, valid for arbitrary shape and internal structure, and in the presence of an external irrotational velocity field. When the axial flow vanishes, the method is equivalent to using the Biot-Savart law for the self-induced velocity, with a suitable cutoff. The impulse of a vortex filament is discussed and its rate of change is given.